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Paying Christmas forward

Ebenezer Scrooge throws open his streetside shutters and shouts down to a boy in the street “What day is this?” Upon learning that the day is, in fact, Christmas day, the miser begins to live what readers know will be a changed life. Old Scrooge becomes a giver in the end, and no matter how many times we hear the story we’re glad to hear the story of a mending heart. 

In Scrooge’s story, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come gets far too much credit for turning things around. The ghosts of past or present do not get their due. It mattered that Ebenezer had known joys and seen kindnesses. It mattered that he was somehow aware of ‘ignorance’ and ‘want’ as well. Although Mr. Scrooge comes to it almost too late, the seeds of a transformation were there for a good long time. Good people were planting them. Kind, caring people were offering help, inviting hope, and setting examples for the Scrooge who would one day care for Bob, Tiny Tim, and all the Cratchit family.

In your schools, in the weeks before Christmas, your teachers and staff did hundreds of hopeful things. They sang carols. They baked cookies. They made art.  They shopped for those who had no one shopping for them. They taught about honoring mothers and fathers. They  taught about traditions of giving. They read stories aloud, rehearsed and performed plays, programs, and concerts. They listened to some who were frightened by recent events, and they cared for others who were nervous about going home. They maintained an artful balance of normal routines and special programming. They  taught and played and protected — all the while planting  seeds for Christmas Future, for tidings of comfort and joy.

STEVE RAZIDLO is superintendent of the Brainerd School District.